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Archive for January, 2012

By Aryeh Shell, special to Climate Connections

On January 24, 2012, hundreds of people from around Honduras descended on the capital at Tegucigalpa to protest the country’s proposed Mining and Hydrocarbons Law. The protesters, who came from every sector of Honduran society, faced a double line of police and soldiers, barring access to the National Congress, where the law is being discussed behind closed doors. The Honduran Mining Commission cited “enormous pressure from investors,” as the rationale for moving the legislation ahead quickly, effectively blocking citizen participation.

The proposed law will push through an additional 370 mining concessions for transnational corporations and foreign governments, destroying the sovereignty, biodiversity, health and water of the Honduran people. One hundred sixty-four metallic mining projects have already been approved, but current laws do not permit them to operate. Under President Zelaya’s administration in 2008, a moratorium was placed on these mining concessions when the Supreme Court found 13 articles of the previous Mining Law to be unconstitutional.

With the coup government in place and “Honduras Open for Business,” social and environmental regulations are being rapidly dismantled to attract foreign investment. Under current law, mining corporations operating in Honduras pay only 1 percent tax to the municipalities in which they operate; even this minimal amount often ends up in the pocket of the local officials. Community members are left with a devastated environment, scarce and severely contaminated water supplies, air pollution and a host of grave diseases: unidentified skin illnesses, hair loss, acute respiratory illnesses, birth deformities, cancer, as well as mental health problems.

With the passage of the new law, 500 mines could soon operate in nearly 40 percent of Honduran territory without prior consultation, informed consent or proper assessment of social and environmental impacts.

Mining protest, Tegucigalpa, January 24, 2012; Photo: Greg McCain

According to Mining Watch, the proposed law attempts to:

1. Continue promoting open-pit mining,

2. Open the door not just for multinational corporations, but also for foreign governments to become title owners of mining concessions,

3. Fail to guarantee and protect access to water for communities, privileging its use by the mining industry, in an open violation of the human right to water,

4. Ensure, within the context of creating incentives for investments, the validity of tax loopholes so that companies don’t pay taxes,

5. Reduce requirements for granting of mining concessions, paving the way for investors, and making it difficult for communities to defend their natural resources,

6. Reduce and eliminate the majority of reasons for which mining concessions can be cancelled, which coincides with content of an earlier bill that was being debated,

7. Restrict and impede access to information regarding mining activities, deeming this information (technical and financial) as confidential and only available to the mining authority,

8. Only consider binding community consultation under exceptional circumstances and not as a general norm. Also, the consultation process is only established for production licenses, which entails the automatic granting of concessions given the potential lawsuits that companies could bring against the state [presumably under free trade agreements or other investment protection agreements],

9. Promote administrative silence as an expedited way to approve requests that mining companies make.

Repression of Anti-mining Activists

These activities are taking place amid active repression, intimidation and criminalization of those who speak out. One woman at the protest, who requested to remain anonymous, told me that she and her children receive constant death threats by anonymous phone calls.

In a press conference, Pedro Lana, director of the Honduran Center for the Promotion of Community Development, stated that 19 environmental activists in Siria Valley currently face legal charges.

Siria Valley is a region where Canadian GoldCorp, one of the world’s largest gold mining companies, left behind rivers and streams polluted with toxic heavy metals, including cyanide, arsenic, mercury and lead. After extracting 12,000 tons of ore, GoldCorp closed the open-pit, cyanide-leaching San Martin mine, denied any wrongdoing and walked away, leaving the community with the company’s toxic legacy.

With their lives and lands on the line, Honduran indigenous and Afro-descendant communities are claiming their territorial, cultural, and legal rights to autonomy, self-determination and the protection of their natural resources.

Aryeh Shell is a cultural activist and a Rotary World Peace Fellow, studying International Relations in Argentina. She is researching the vibrant Honduran movement in resistance to neoliberal development projects.

TAKE ACTION

If you would like to act in solidarity with mining-affected communities in Honduras to prevent the repression, please email the Honduran officials listed below. For a sample letter, see the following link: http://www.rightsaction.org/action-content/mining-companies-gearing-honduras-killings-repression-and-impunity-continue-unchecked

Write to:

Juan Orlando Hernandez, President of the Honduran National Congress: juanorlandohernandez@yahoo.com y presidencia@congreso.gob.hn

Toribio Aguilera: Caucus Leader for the Innovation Party and the Social Democratic Unity Party PINU-SD: joseaguilera@multivision.net

Marvin Ponce: Caucus leader for the Democratic Union Party (UD): poncemarvin@yahoo.es

José Alfredo Saavedra: Caucus leader for the Liberal Party: joseasaavedra@congreso.gob.hn

Celin Discua Elvir, Caucus leader for the National Party:

jdiscua@congreso.gob.hn

Augusto Cruz Ascencio: Caucus leader for the Christian Democrat Party: augustocruz@congreso.gob.hn

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Windsor Star photographer, Ted Rhodes, treated in the streets by Shutdown OAS Coalition street medic after Rhodes received blast of pepper spray while documenting protests against the Free Trade of the Americas in Windsor, Ontario.  (2000) Photo: Langelle/GJEP 

Recently, on this blog we have run several articles concerning repression against journalists in their attempt to document efforts by the 1% to keep the truth from the eyes of the people.  Both Orin Langelle and Jeff Conant from GJEP carry official press accreditation and we feel that is important to inform people about some of the dangers involved in reporting incidents the authorities want kept quiet.

Langelle recalls that on his first assignment as a photojournalist during the 1972 protests during the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, he was billy-clubbed by the police.  More recently he was assaulted by an unidentified uniformed UN security guard during the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa last month.  The security guard slammed Langelle’s camera into his face because he took a photo of that guard ejecting an accredited participant of the conference from the UN compound as he was being interviewed by the media immediately following a Global Justice Ecology Project press conference.

 As the situation on this planet worsens ecologically and economically, the dangers of documenting the plundering of the Earth and the repression of people who try to stop it will increase.

History of the January Photo of the Month: The actions in Windsor in 2000 were the first major protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas.  Others followed in Quebec City in 2001 and finally in Miami, Florida in 2003 where the FTAA ran aground.  The following article was written immediately after the Windsor actions:

Windsor, Ontario anti-Free Trade Area of the Americas
and Organization of American States Actions, June 4-6, 2000

by Orin Langelle

Windsor, Ontario–The shutdown of the OAS/FTAA meetings in Windsor were successful as business was unable to proceed as usual.  The FTAA is the southward expansion of NAFTA and intends to bind all countries in the Americas (except Cuba) to another trade agreement. Although the meetings took place, it was only with armed protection. The Windsor Star reported prior to the actions, “…the protesters have already won.  Without throwing a single rock or unfurling one banner, they’ve turned the OAS delegates and their entourages into diplomatic birds in a gilded cage.”

There were around 70 arrests in three days of action.

Delegates met behind 15 foot fences and concrete barricades as a ten square block perimeter was enforced by the Windsor police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP in full riot gear.  The Detroit River was patrolled by police boats.  Across the river, Detroit was also militarized.

On Sunday between 3-5,000 protesters led by labor rallied and marched.  The first pepper spray incident occurred during the labor rally when demonstrators attempted to unfurl an anti-FTAA banner over the OAS cage.  Pepper spray continued throughout the afternoon as other protesters blocked a bus with delegates bound for the meetings.

Monday found high school students walking out of their classes in protest of the meetings.

More high school students did the same on Tuesday, when the OAS delegates met regarding next year’s Summit of the Americas where the FTAA will be the key topic.

Although the OAS said that the Windsor meeting had nothing to do with trade, Canadian Prime Minister Chrétien welcomed the delegates by endorsing the FTAA.

 ————————————————————————————–

 Also check out the GJEP Photo Gallery, past Photos of the Month posted on GJEP’s website, or Langelle’s photo essaysposted on GJEP’s Climate Connections blog.

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It’s strange that at this week’s World Economic Forum the designated voice of the world’s poor has been Bill Gates, who has pledged £478m to the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, telling Davos that the world economic crisis was no excuse for cutting aid.

It reminds me of that dark hour when Al Gore, despite being a shareholder in Occidental Petroleum, was the voice of climate change action – because Gates does not speak with the voice of the world’s poor, of course, but with the voice of its rich. It’s a loud voice, but the model of development it proclaims is the wrong one because philanthropy is the enemy of justice.

Am I saying that philanthropy has never done good? No, it has achieved many wonderful things. Would I rather people didn’t have polio vaccines than get them from a plutocrat? No, give them the vaccines. But beware the havoc that power without oversight and democratic control can wreak.

The biotech agriculture that Lord Sainsbury was unable to push through democratically he can now implement unilaterally, through his Gatsby Foundation. We are told that Gatsby’s biotech project aims to provide food security for the global south. But if you listen to southern groups such as the Karnataka State Farmers of India, food security is precisely the reason they campaign against GM, because biotech crops are monocrops which are more vulnerable to disease and so need lashings of petrochemical pesticides, insecticides and fungicides – none of them cheap – and whose ruinous costs will rise with the price of oil, bankrupting small family farms first. Crop diseases mutate, meanwhile, and all the chemical inputs in the world can’t stop disease wiping out whole harvests of genetically engineered single strands.

Both the Gatsby and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundations are keen to get deeper into agriculture, especially in Africa. But top-down nostrums for the rural poor don’t end well. The list of autocratic hubris in pseudo-scientific farming is long and spectacularly calamitous. It runs from Tsar Alexander I’s model village colonies in 1820s Novgorod to 1920s Hollywood film producer Hickman Price, who, as Simon Schama brilliantly describes in The American Future, “bought 54 square miles of land to show the little people how it was really done, [and] used 25 combines all painted glittery silver”. His fleet of tractors were kept working day and night, and the upshot of such sod-busting was the great plains dustbowl. But there’s no stopping a plutocratic philanthropist in a hurry.

And then there is the vexed question of whether these billions are really the billionaires’ to give away in the first place. When Microsoft was on its board, the American Electronics Association, the AeA, challenged European Union proposals for a ban on toxic components and for the use of a minimum 5% recycled plastic in the manufacture of electronic goods.

AeA took the EU to the World Trade Organisation on a charge of erecting artificial trade barriers. (And according to the American NGO Public Citizen, “made the astounding claim that there is no evidence that heavy metals, like lead, pose a threat to human health or the environment”.)

Now, the EU is big enough and ugly enough to have fought and won the case. But many an African country lacks the war chest for such a fight, and so will end up paying for the healthcare of those exposed to leaky old PCs’ cadmium, chromium or mercury, instead of embarking on, let’s say, a nationwide anti-malaria strategy. Bill Gates himself may not indeed have known about what the AeA was doing on Microsoft’s behalf, but the fact remains that if a philanthropist’s money comes from externalising corporate costs to taxpayers, and that if Microsoft is listed for its own tax purposes as a partly Puerto Rican and Singaporean company, then the real philanthropists behind these glittering foundations might be a sight more ragged-trousered than Bill and Melinda.

Free marketeers will spring to the defence of billionaire philanthropists with a remark like: “Oh, so you’d rather they spent all their money selfishly on golf courses and mansions, would you?” To which I reply: “Oh, you mean that trickle-down doesn’t work, after all?” But the point is that the poor are not begging us for charity, they are demanding justice. And when, on the occasion of his birthday, a sultan or emperor reprieved one thousand prisoners sentenced to death, no one ever called those pardons justice. Nor is it justice when a plutocrat decides to reprieve untold thousands from malaria. Human beings should not have to depend upon a rich man’s whim for the right to life.

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

It’s strange that at this week’s World Economic Forum the designated voice of the world’s poor has been Bill Gates, who has pledged £478m to the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, telling Davos that the world economic crisis was no excuse for cutting aid.

It reminds me of that dark hour when Al Gore, despite being a shareholder in Occidental Petroleum, was the voice of climate change action – because Gates does not speak with the voice of the world’s poor, of course, but with the voice of its rich. It’s a loud voice, but the model of development it proclaims is the wrong one because philanthropy is the enemy of justice.

Am I saying that philanthropy has never done good? No, it has achieved many wonderful things. Would I rather people didn’t have polio vaccines than get them from a plutocrat? No, give them the vaccines. But beware the havoc that power without oversight and democratic control can wreak.

The biotech agriculture that Lord Sainsbury was unable to push through democratically he can now implement unilaterally, through his Gatsby Foundation. We are told that Gatsby’s biotech project aims to provide food security for the global south. But if you listen to southern groups such as the Karnataka State Farmers of India, food security is precisely the reason they campaign against GM, because biotech crops are monocrops which are more vulnerable to disease and so need lashings of petrochemical pesticides, insecticides and fungicides – none of them cheap – and whose ruinous costs will rise with the price of oil, bankrupting small family farms first. Crop diseases mutate, meanwhile, and all the chemical inputs in the world can’t stop disease wiping out whole harvests of genetically engineered single strands.

Both the Gatsby and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundations are keen to get deeper into agriculture, especially in Africa. But top-down nostrums for the rural poor don’t end well. The list of autocratic hubris in pseudo-scientific farming is long and spectacularly calamitous. It runs from Tsar Alexander I’s model village colonies in 1820s Novgorod to 1920s Hollywood film producer Hickman Price, who, as Simon Schama brilliantly describes in The American Future, “bought 54 square miles of land to show the little people how it was really done, [and] used 25 combines all painted glittery silver”. His fleet of tractors were kept working day and night, and the upshot of such sod-busting was the great plains dustbowl. But there’s no stopping a plutocratic philanthropist in a hurry.

And then there is the vexed question of whether these billions are really the billionaires’ to give away in the first place. When Microsoft was on its board, the American Electronics Association, the AeA, challenged European Union proposals for a ban on toxic components and for the use of a minimum 5% recycled plastic in the manufacture of electronic goods.

AeA took the EU to the World Trade Organisation on a charge of erecting artificial trade barriers. (And according to the American NGO Public Citizen, “made the astounding claim that there is no evidence that heavy metals, like lead, pose a threat to human health or the environment”.)

Now, the EU is big enough and ugly enough to have fought and won the case. But many an African country lacks the war chest for such a fight, and so will end up paying for the healthcare of those exposed to leaky old PCs’ cadmium, chromium or mercury, instead of embarking on, let’s say, a nationwide anti-malaria strategy. Bill Gates himself may not indeed have known about what the AeA was doing on Microsoft’s behalf, but the fact remains that if a philanthropist’s money comes from externalising corporate costs to taxpayers, and that if Microsoft is listed for its own tax purposes as a partly Puerto Rican and Singaporean company, then the real philanthropists behind these glittering foundations might be a sight more ragged-trousered than Bill and Melinda.

Free marketeers will spring to the defence of billionaire philanthropists with a remark like: “Oh, so you’d rather they spent all their money selfishly on golf courses and mansions, would you?” To which I reply: “Oh, you mean that trickle-down doesn’t work, after all?” But the point is that the poor are not begging us for charity, they are demanding justice. And when, on the occasion of his birthday, a sultan or emperor reprieved one thousand prisoners sentenced to death, no one ever called those pardons justice. Nor is it justice when a plutocrat decides to reprieve untold thousands from malaria. Human beings should not have to depend upon a rich man’s whim for the right to life.

Please share far and wide!!!!


Note: What does it mean to ‘Occupy already occupied lands?’. How does Occupy relate to 500 years of resistance on Turtle Island?  This event featured Indigenous leaders Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Clayton Thomas-Muller and Leanne Simpson with MC Tannis Nielson to explore and discuss these dynamics of the Occupy movement.

Clayton Thomas-Muller, who gives the opening song and speaks later in the video, is on the Global Justice Ecology Project board.  Clayton and Tom B.K. Goldtooth are from the Indigenous Environmental Network.  GJEP is a strategic media ally with IEN and worked closely with them in Durban, South Africa last month during the UN Climate Conference.  GJEP is honored to work with IEN.

What follows are very important videos, and we hope  that everyone in the Occupy Movement takes time to watch them.  But not only the Occupy Movement.  We urge everyone to watch these thoughtful and powerful speakers talking about life on Earth, resistance to the 1% and the causalities suffered at the hands of power in this on-going war on the Earth and all inhabitants.  One of the many points made during the presentations is that the system is not broken – it is working just as it is supposed to.  System change is needed.

This important event took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at Beit Zatoun, January, 23rd, 2012.  It was sponsored by the Canadian Auto Workers, Canadian Labour Congress, CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy Ryerson University, Environmental Justice Toronto.  Media sponsor: Rabble

-The GJEP Team

-Thanks Giving:

-

Opening Song (Clayton Thomas-Muller):

-

John Trudel Opening Video- Look At Us:

-

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson:

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a writer, activist, and scholar of Michi Saagiik Nishnaabeg ancestry and is a band member of Alderville First Nation. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba, is an Adjunct Professor in Indigenous Studies at Trent University and an instructor at the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge, Athabasca University. She has also lectured at Ryerson University, the University of Victoria, the University of Manitoba, and the University of Winnipeg. Leanne has worked with Indigenous communities and organizations across Canada and internationally over the past 15 years on environmental, governance and political issues. She has published three edited volumes including Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Resurgence and Protection of Indigenous Nations (2008, Arbeiter Ring), and This is An Honour Song: Twenty Years Since the Barricades (with Kiera Ladner, 2010, Arbeiter Ring). Leanne has published over thirty scholarly articles and raised over one million dollars for community-based research projects over her career. She has written fiction and non-fiction pieces for Now Magazine, Spirit Magazine, the Globe and Mail, Anishinabek News, the Link, and Canadian Art Magazine.

Clayton Thomas-Muller, of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation also known as Pukatawagan in Northern Manitoba, Canada, is an activist for Indigenous rights and environmental justice. With his roots in the inner city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Clayton began his work as a community organizer, working with Aboriginal youth. Over the years Clayton’s work has taken him to five continents across our Mother Earth. Based out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Clayton is involved in many initiatives to support the building of an inclusive movement for energy and climate justice. He serves on the board of the Global Justice Ecology Project and Canadian based Raven Trust. Recognized by Utne Magazine as one of the top 30 under 30 activists in the United States and as a “Climate Hero 2009” by Yes Magazine, Clayton is the Tar Sands Campaign Director for the Indigenous Environmental Network. He works across Canada, Alaska and the lower 48 states with grassroots indigenous communities to defend against the sprawling infrastructure that includes pipelines, refineries and extraction associated with the tar sands, the largest and most destructive industrial project in the history of mankind.

-Tom Goldtooth:

Tom B.K. Goldtooth is the Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), headquartered at Bemidji, Minnesota. A social change activist within the Native American community for over 30 years, he has become an environmental and economic justice leader, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Tom co-produced an award winning documentary film, Drumbeat For Mother Earth, which addresses the affects of bio-accumulative chemicals on indigenous peoples, and is active with many environmental and social justice organizations besides IEN. Tom is a policy advisor on environmental protection, climate mitigation, and adaptation. Tom co-authored the REDD Booklet on the risks of REDD within indigenous territories and a member of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change — the indigenous caucus within the UNFCCC.

http://www.mediawrench.org
Info@MediaWrench.org

https://www.facebook.com/events/323821617650517/

Poster for Event was designed by Chelsea Taylor

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

Special report by Jeff Conant, Global Justice Ecology Project, from the streets in Oakland

January 29, Oakland CA – What began as a plan to occupy a vacant city building, with the stated intention of transforming it into a community center, became another in a series of street battles between Oakland police and Occupy supporters that ended with hundreds jailed and the city center under siege.

Hundreds marched from Oscar Grant Plaza at noon on Saturday, becoming thousands as the police and several local sheriffs departments responded rapidly, and with force.

Some 400 people were arrested throughout the day, including several journalists; several Occupiers entered City Hall and burned an American flag; two broadcast media vans were attacked by demonstrators. The Oakland Police Department, even as it faces Federal receivership for its long history of abuse, reacted with teargas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and the first reported appearance of an enormous tank, corralling marchers, and engaging in arbitrary arrests, sometimes with excessive force.

The next night in Oscar Grant Plaza, in the chill outdoors beneath high-rise office buildings, hundreds gathered to hold the biweekly Oakland General Assembly, to debrief, and to support those in jail. There may have been as many opinions about the day’s events as there were people in the plaza.

One supporter said she’d been against Saturday’s plan from the start, and had voted against it.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she said, “I think we need to do building takeovers. But this one was poorly planned and badly executed.”

“I’m for diversity of tactics,” she said. “Not futility of tactics.”

The man next to her, not surprisingly, had a different take. Preferring to remain anonymous, he summed up the day’s events as “semi-productive chaos.”

The productive part, he said, hinged on “thousands of people mobilized and freed from patterns of immobility and fear.”

As an attempt to occupy a building and create a community center, he said, “it was a spectacular failure. But we need failures. With every one, we’re learning.”

For this writer, the most poignant assessment had come the night before, around midnight on Saturday, when downtown Oakland was still tense. Police had cordoned off several blocks and surrounded Oscar Grant Plaza, as demonstrators continued to be loaded in buses to Santa Rita County jail, 40 miles away.

There in the nearly empty plaza, a small group of Iraq Veterans Against the War had gathered to keep watch on the police, who stood with helmets and batons along the perimeter. Several of their friends had been swept up in the arrests.

Dottie Guy, Iraq War vet, at Oscar Grant Plaza. Photo: Jeff Conant

I asked one of the group, an African American woman named Dottie Guy, what had brought her out. She flashed a smile.

“Where else am I going to be?” she said. “I need to be here.”

Dottie had crossed the Bay from her home in San Francisco, but was originally from Virginia. She’d joined the National Guard in 2000, as a way to get to college, she told me.

“After 9-11 happened, I was called up,” she said. “I never expected to go Iraq.”

Dottie served her tour of duty, and by the time she was stateside, she was fed up. Now, together with an apparently growing number of service veterans, she’s a regular supporter of the Occupy movement.

I asked her again if she could clarify what it was that compelled her to join this movement.

“I took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution,” she answered. “They didn’t let me do it in Iraq, so I’m doing it here.”

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Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

Video of dolphin slaughter below article

Note:  Whether one likes the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and their allies or not, here is another case of a photographer stopped for trying to document reality.  That reality was the slaughter of dolphins.  Erwin was in Taiji attempting to document the town’s annual dolphin massacre, which runs from September until March, in an effort to bring global awareness to this slaughter. Whether covering war, or the destruction of the Earth and its inhabitants, those complicit (the 1%) do not want the truth seen by the rest of us.  If documentary photographers, filmakers and journalists are prevented from capturing the facts, we all lose.  As long as injustice continues, however, concerned people will take risks to record its harsh realities in order to inform the rest of the world.

At the end of this article is a video of a past mass dolphin killing in Taiji. WARNING: Please be aware that it is graphic.-Orin Langelle for the GJEP Team

Erwin with Otis: Otis was a rescue from a cruelty situation.

The prosecution presents their case

Cross-posted from Sea Shepherd

Thursday January 26 marked the start of court proceedings for Dutch Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen, who has been detained for more than 40 days on false charges of assault. Erwin was in Taiji documenting the town’s annual dolphin massacre, which runs from September until March, in an effort to bring global awareness to this horrific slaughter, when he was falsely accused of pushing one of the dolphin resort employees.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society had a definitive presence in the courtroom. Board Director Dr. Bonny Shumaker and Sea Shepherd Netherlands Director Geert Vons made the trip to Japan to support Erwin. Also in attendance were Cove Guardian campaign leader, Scott West, as well as 5 volunteers; none were allowed contact with Erwin.

Until last week, Erwin was being held in the Shingu jail, near Taiji. He has now been transferred to Wakayama, where the trial will take place. Erwin has been kept under solitary conditions and was not told what charges he was being held on until his transfer last week. He has been denied contact with anyone in the outside world including loved ones and fellow Sea Shepherd volunteers. He has been refused any reading material while detained and has been subject to continual interrogation.

Even more shocking is the fact that while in Shingu, Erwin was fed a diet of mostly-if not all- white rice and his requests for nutritional supplements were denied.

The Dolphin Resort trainer who accused Erwin of pushing him gave his statement before the judge. The trainer claims Erwin pushed him in the chest area. The accuser’s account of the incident appeared to be inconsistent with the written statement he provided to the police a few days after the alleged incident. The prosecution went so far as to try and obtain DNA evidence to prove Erwin touched the man. Police collected “foreign matters” from around the trainer’s chest, but the DNA test was negative.  This test was presented in court and proved, even scientifically, that there was no contact between the two men.

After the accuser gave his statement, Erwin took the stand looking visibly thinner, fatigued, and had not been provided with a haircut or shave while detained.

The prosecution began by attempting to trick Erwin into making harmful remarks about Sea Shepherd; these attempts failed.  He maintains that he had no contact with the trainer and that his hands were full carrying a tripod, camera, and communication radio- leaving no free hand for him to push the man. In his recounting of events, Erwin said he passed a so-called roadblock and that the trainer was on his cell phone and did not even notice him until he was 20 meters past the barricade. Shortly afterwards the Taiji police arrived. Erwin stated that at the time they did not mention anything about the alleged assault, only that he had crossed a no trespassing sign. Only some time later after the Wakayama police and the accuser spent more time conversing, and Erwin and the rest of the Cove Guardians were preparing to leave, did the police inform Erwin that the trainer was claiming he had been pushed.

The prosecution proceeded to bring up irrelevant accusation of trespassing and how taking photos of people who don’t want to be photographed is offensive. Erwin’s reply was “Yes, well I am offended by the dolphin slaughter. It’s not a crime to offend, but I’m not here for photos or trespassing, I’m here for pushing.” He also pointed out to the court that the Cove Guardians have a silent agreement with the police “when we see a sign, we enter once and the English speaking police will tell us if it’s legal or not. The locals always ignore the signs, only they are never reprimanded.”

During the court proceeding Erwin alludes to the conditions inside his jail cell. He was asked to put on the jacket he was wearing during the alleged crime, as a reenactment for the court. Erwin remarked “I wish I had this in my cell because it’s freezing in there.” When the court was considering taking a break for dinner Erwin said, “ I don’t need to eat. It’s nice and warm in here. This is the first time in two weeks that I’ve been warm.”

It is important to remember that Erwin Vermeulen is being held on charges of simple assault, due to an accusation that he merely pushed another person, and is being subjected to highly inhumane conditions. The conviction rate in Japanese courts is 99% and most detainees confess very quickly. It is easy to see why, after learning of the subpar conditions Erwin is being subjected to inside the Japanese prison system. Through the course of his imprisonment and harsh treatment, Erwin has maintained his innocence and Sea Shepherd will do everything in our power to see him free and justice served.

The trial continues February 1st when the defense will present their case and a Sea Shepherd witness will be allowed to give a testimony. Closing arguments are scheduled for February 16th with a verdict on February 22nd, meaning Erwin will spend another month in jail on a ludicrous charge. If convicted Erwin could face up to two years in prison along with a large fine.

Following the court proceedings, Sea Shepherd Netherlands Director Geert Vons had the following statement:

“Erwin Vermeulen has now become a trump card in the dispute between Japan and the Netherlands over whaling. Sea Shepherd’s ships are registered in the Netherlands and every year when the whale hunt starts Japan complains to the Netherlands about environmental activists hindering its whale hunters.

The charges against Erwin were only clearly stated on Saturday. He is being treated like a notorious criminal. He is not allowed any contact with the outside world, or any letters. It is a very, very sad story. I had expected more support from the Dutch Government, for a Dutch national.”

According to the Dutch Animal Rights Party, Foreign Affairs Minister Uri Rosenthal is “not doing enough” and they want a debate about the issue in the Lower House. According to Esther Ouwehand, one of the party’s two members of parliament, Japan has a reputation for arresting activists who it regards as “hindering” whale hunts for political reasons. Ouwehand wants Rosenthal to summon the Japanese ambassador.

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

A few months ago, I received a call from a reporter at the Christian Science Monitor, who’d been referred to me, he said, because of my experience in Mexico, and because I’ve been working, with Global Justice Ecology Project, on exposing the problems that can accompany apparently ‘green’ development – specifically REDD, the Clean Development Mechanism, Biofuels, and carbon trading. The reporter was researching an article on wind farms on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. He’d heard rumors, he told me, that there was a downside to these wind farms, but he hadn’t yet gotten hold of anyone who could clearly explain why in the world – aside from the standard concerns of bird-deaths and noise pollution – anyone would oppose wind power.

I told him I’d heard of the Oaxaca project, and was aware there were big issues, and I referred him to some sources in Mexico, including Wendy Call, whose terrific book on Tehuantepec, No Word for Welcome, I recently reviewed for Orion Magazine.

I said I had no personal connection to the Tehuantepec wind project but I would hazard a guess that the issue was this: who gets the electricity, and who pays the social costs? Do the local farmers and fishers want enormous turbines installed on their ancestral lands? What happens when big, moneyed interests colonize an area where the culture has been relatively intact for centuries?

As we spoke, I went online to search who would own the electricity from the wind farms, and what I found essentially answers all of these questions: the biggest shares of investment in the project, and the biggest shares of energy coming out of it, belong to Walmart and Coca-Cola. From a point of view that questions the need, at this stage in the deepening climate crisis, for more crap plastic products and more hyped-up sugar water, that says it all.

The CSM reporter, Erik Vance, did find what he was looking for, and has just produced several in-depth articles on “the wind rush”, including the very illuminating and well-considered article one we cross-post below.  – Jeff Conant, for Global Justice Ecology Project

The ‘wind rush’: Green energy blows trouble into Mexico

    • Green energy’s big success is a rude awakening in the isthmus of Mexico.

    By Erik Vance, Correspondent

    January 26, 2012 – The Isthmus of Tehuantapec, Mexico‘s narrowest point, is a powerful wind tunnel of air currents whipping through the mountains that separate the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Here, on the Pacific side, the wind shapes everything from the miles-long sandspits of Laguna Superior to the landscapes of the indigenous people’s hearts.

    Howling constantly through thatched roofs, the wind is powerful enough at times to support a grown man leaning back as if in a chair. Gales average 19 miles per hour, slapping waves over the bows of fishing skiffs and sandblasting anyone standing on the beach.

    IN PICTURES: Windmills of the Mexican isthmus

    The wind is “sacred” in this village, says indigenous Huave fisherman Donaciano Victoria. “We believe that the wind from the north is like a man and the wind from the south is like a woman. And so you must not disrespect the wind.”

    To read the rest of the article, go to The Christian Science Monitor.

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    Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

    Indigenous Environmental Network

    “A network of Indigenous Peoples empowering Indigenous Nations and communities towards sustainable livelihoods, demanding environmental justice and maintaining the Sacred Fire of our traditions.”

    First Nations in Alberta Northwest Territories sign Save the Fraser Declaration opposing the proposed Enbridge Pipeline and Tankers project

    January 27, 2012

    Edmonton – This afternoon, First Nations from Alberta the Northwest Territories added their names and support to a formal declaration opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and supertankers project.  In signing the Save the Fraser Declaration – a formal legal declaration that protects the world’s most critical salmon rivers, and the Pacific North Coast, from the threat of oil spills posed by the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline and supertankers.

    -
    The Yinka Dene Alliance, which is made up of 6 Nations (Nadleh Whut’en, Saik’uz, Takla Lake, Nak’azdli, Wet’suwet’en and Tlazt’en Nations) in northern British Columbia led the creation of the Declaration in 2010. Since then, First Nations signing onto this opposition of the proposed Enbridge pipeline and tankers has snowballed to more than 100 First Nations in BC, Alberta and the NWT.

    Members of the Yinka Dene Alliance including Chief Jackie Thomas traveled to Edmonton for a signing ceremony to welcome the support of Alberta NWT Nations. “The Harper government has made clear that they plan to ram the Enbridge pipeline and tankers through. He wants to sacrifice First Nations once again for this tar sands poison,” said Chief Jackie Thomas of Saik’uz First Nation. “We will stop them.”

    The signing of this Declaration comes after a long week of Chiefs, Elders and community leaders from various communities presenting oral evidence to the Enbridge Joint Review Panel here in Edmonton. Testimony given by various communities in Alberta echoed Nations in BC and outlined the serious concerns many First Nation communities have about the proposed route of the pipeline and its close proximity to waterways, culturally-sensitive areas and traditional hunting, fishing and gathering sites in the province.

    Alberta First Nations affected by tar sands developments – and also living downstream of the proposed Enbridge pipeline route and possible pipeline oil spills – committed to helping the Yinka Dene Alliance and BC First Nations to protect their lands.
    “As a community being impacted by rapid tar sands development in the Alberta we support the Yinka Dene Alliance and understand the importance of protecting sacred waterways from the dangers of this pipeline,” stated Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. “Our community has seen the devastating impacts of tar sands projects and we truly hope that our brothers and sisters in the Fraser River do not suffer the same fate.”

    The Save the Fraser Declaration recognizes the connection to tar sands expansion projects and criticizes the federal process to approve the pipeline. The Declaration states, “This project would link the Tar Sands to Asia through our territories and the headwaters of this great river, and the federal process to approve it, violate our laws, traditions, values and our inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples under international law…”

    “Our downstream communities have already experienced impacts from the ruptured Enbridge Norman Wells pipeline in the NWT, which is still being cleaned,” stated Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus. “A rupture in the Northern Gateway pipeline could also affect us because the water comes north. People in the north get their drinking water directly from the rivers and streams.”

    New Signatories to the Declaration include Dene Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Swan River First Nation, Smith’s Landing First Nation, Katlodeeche First Nation, Liidlii Kue First Nation, Deh Gah Got’ie First Nation, and Deh Cho First Nations.

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    Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

    Hand of the unidentified UN security guard smashing my camera into my face because I took a photograph of him escorting a UN accredited delegate dressed as a clown out of the UN compound after the clown spoke at a press conference and was being interviewed by media. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

    Note: On 16 December 2011 I filed a Formal Complaint Filed Against UN Security Actions in Durban, South Africa during the UN climate talks held there; specifically about an incident regarding  an unidentified uniformed officer. The officer shoved my camera into my face to prevent me from documenting the detention and expulsion of a UN-accredited delegate that occurred on 8 December 2011.  I was covering the UN climate talks and was officially accredited by the UN as media on assignment for Z Magazine.On 20 December 2011 I received an email from Elke Hoekstra, UN Communications and Knowledge Management, stating that my complaint was received and “We will look into this matter and come back to you in due course.” Today I contacted Ms Hoekstra via an email below.  Orin Langelle

    Dear Ms Hoekstra,

    On 16 December 2011 I lodged a formal complaint against the UNFCCC for the treatment I received from one unidentified uniformed officer just after noon on 8 December 2011 during COP 17 in Durban, South Africa.  I was officially accredited by the UNFCCC during COP 17 as media.  I was on assignment for Z Magazine.

    On 20 December 2011 you replied to that complaint, “We will look into this matter and come back to you in due course.”

    It has now been over a month since I filed my complaint and I feel that the UNFCCC has not responded to me in “due course.”

    Please take notice, that I am contacting my attorney in regards to filing a legal charge of assault against the unidentified uniformed officer.

    I would hope that the UNFCCC takes this matter seriously now and responds immediately to my complaint.

    Sincerely,

    Orin Langelle

    Langelle Photo

    P.O. Box  412  Hinesburg, VT  05461  U.S.  GMT -5:00

    Member of the National Writers Union and the International Federation of Journalists

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    Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog